Princeton University Concerts Presents “Leading Ladies” of Classical Music

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Friday, March 5, 2021


A virtual “Watch Party” on Sunday, March 28 at 3PM (EDT) features four “leading ladies” of classical music, all championing often-overlooked instruments: saxophonist Jess Gillam, harpist Bridget Kibbey, bagpiper Cristina Pato, and accordionist Ksenija Sidorova.
The concert will conclude with a live conversation with the musicians.
Princeton University Concerts has partnered with local bakery The Gingered Peach to offer a special menu curated to the music.

Princeton University Concerts pays tribute to Women’s History Month by spotlighting four “leading ladies” of classical music who are pioneers of instruments often overlooked in the mainstream: accordionist Ksenija Sidorova, bagpiper Cristina Pato, harpist Bridget Kibbey, and saxophonist Jess Gillam with pianist James Baillieu will present an international virtual concert streaming from London, Barcelona, and New York City on Sunday, March 28, 2021 at 3PM (EDT). This free “Watch Party,” a continuation of Princeton University Concerts’ commitment to presenting world-class artistry at no charge to the public during the course of the pandemic, will showcase a varied program sampling a wide range of all that these incredible instruments, and musicians, are capable. The four fearless champions will follow their individual performances with a group discussion and live Q&A, in a discussion both amongst themselves and directly with viewers. These leading ladies all share the distinction of being pioneers in their field, being the first of their gender or instrument to accomplish milestones within the music industry—the first saxophonist to be signed to the Decca Classics record label; the first female Galician bagpipe player to ever release a solo album; the “Yo-Yo Ma of the harp” who has pushed the instrument into unchartered genres; and an accordionist who is as comfortable appearing at the Mostly Mozart Festival as she is performing alongside Sting.

“All four of our leading ladies have either appeared, or were scheduled to appear, in separate events on Princeton University Concerts’ Performances Up Close series—a format allowing audience members to sit onstage right alongside the musicians in informal, hour-long concerts,” explains series director Marna Seltzer. “The intimacy allowed by this series has been especially missed during a time of pandemic. Yet the ability to present all four together in a virtual concert provides an incredible opportunity to tap into the trailblazing energy that they all share, and to celebrate that spirit in the uniquely up-close manner allowed by technology. I can think of no better way to mark Women’s History Month then with these remarkable pioneers!”

Continuing the initiative of partnering with local food vendors for Watch Party events, Princeton University Concerts has joined forces with the Gingered Peach in Lawrenceville, owned by local leading lady and James Beard Foundation fellow Joanne Canady-Brown. The beloved bakery has designed a $20 “O.G. Leading Ladies of the Gingered Peach” feast incorporating Cuban and Puerto Rican savory items and a pineapple upside down cake, in honor of the matriarchs of their family. Deeply invested in its community, the Gingered Peach will donate $5 from every purchased box to the Trenton Youth Orchestra, part of Princeton University’s Trenton Arts at Princeton program bringing together Princeton and Trenton students through the performing arts. Boxes can be ordered by email (info) or by phone (609-896-5848) through Thursday, March 25, 2021 and can be picked up on Sunday, March 28, 2021, between 12PM and 2PM at the Gingered Peach (2 Gordon Ave, Lawrence Township, NJ 08648).

The concert stream will remain available for on-demand viewing until 11:59PM on Saturday, April 24. While this free virtual event is non-ticketed, attendees are highly encouraged to RSVP in advance at

Hailing from Ulverston in Cumbria, 22-year-old saxophonist Jess Gillam is animating the music world with her outstanding talent and infectious personality. After performing at the prestigious Last Night of the Proms in 2018 and having her performance described as “the indisputable highlight” by BBC News, Jess continues to grow her international career while also presenting on TV and Radio. Passionate about inspiring and bringing joy to people through music, she launched her Virtual Scratch Orchestra in lock-down, inviting over 2,000 musicians of any level to come together to play music virtually with her from 30 different countries, aged 2-94.
Jess was the first ever saxophonist to reach the final of BBC Young Musician competition, and is the first ever saxophonist to be signed to Decca Classics. She recently released her second album, ‘TIME’, which shot to No.1 in the Official UK Classical Charts, as did her debut album ‘RISE’. Her albums incorporate music from the many genres that she loves. She became the youngest ever presenter for BBC Radio 3 and hosts her own weekly show and podcast called “This Classical Life” where she chats to musical guests to swap tracks and share the music they love. In 2019, she performed live at the British Academy of Film and Television Awards to millions of viewers, and in 2020 was nominated for The Times Breakthrough Award.
A free spirit in style and character, Gillam is a passionate advocate for the power of music in society, often combining her concert engagements with educational and social projects. She is a patron for Awards for Young Musicians and a trustee for the HarrisonParrott Foundation, working towards full inclusivity of all ethnicities, genders, disabilities and social backgrounds with equal access to the arts. She is a Vandoren UK Artist and became the youngest ever endorsee for Yanagisawa Saxophones aged just 13. She is a lover of live music and continues to promote her own concert series, bringing international talent to her hometown of Ulverston.
Called the “Yo-Yo Ma of the harp,” by Vogue, Bridget Kibbey is in demand for her innovative, virtuosic performances that expand the expressive range of the harp. Collaborating with some of today’s top artists, she crosses genres to emphasize the harp’s role through centuries and cultures of music. The New York Times has remarked that “…she made it seem as though her instrument had been waiting all its life to explode with the gorgeous colors and energetic figures she was getting from it.”
Kibbey has received a prestigious Avery Fisher Career Grant and a Salon de Virtuosi SONY Recording Grant. She is the winner of the Premiere Prix at the Journées de les Harpes Competition in Arles, France, the Concert Artists Guild competition, and the Juilliard School’s Peter Mennin Prize for Artistic Excellence and Leadership. She is a graduate of the Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center’s Bowers Program (formerly CMS Two), and is featured annually with the CMSLC.
With the harp as her muse, Bridget Kibbey is sought after for her keen curatorial ideas through music. She currently tours several projects of her own conception ranging from French Masterworks of the Belle Époque, to the riches of baroque counterpoint, to popular and familiar folk music from South America to Sephardia which resulted from some of history’s greatest cross-cultural pollination stories.
She has appeared as a soloist and chamber musician in festivals across the globe, including Schloss Elmau, Pelotas Festival, Lincoln Center’s Mostly Mozart Festival, International Festival d’Avesnois, Aspen Music Festival, Bravo! Vail Music Festival, Santa Fe Chamber Music Festival, Spoleto Festival, Big Ears Knoxville, Chamber Music Northwest, Bridgehampton Chamber Music Festival, Bay Chamber Concerts, Savannah Music Festival, and Music@Menlo, among others.
Cristina Pato is a Galician bagpiper (gaita), a classical pianist, a writer and a passionate educator. Hailed as “a virtuosic burst of energy” by The New York Times, her professional life is devoted to teaching and performance that explores the role of the arts and sciences in society.
Cristina was the first female gaita player to ever release a solo album. She has collaborated with world music, jazz, classical and experimental artists (including Chicago Symphony, Yo-Yo Ma, Arturo O’Farrill, New York Philharmonic, Paquito D’Rivera, Damian Woetzel and Lil’ Buck). Cristina’s unique and powerful style fuses the influences of Latin music, jazz, pop and contemporary music to bring her musical vision to life. She is an active producer, curator and artistic director of multidisciplinary events (including her own festival Galician Connection and Yo-Yo Ma’s Bach Project). As a performer, she is the leader of the Cristina Pato QUARTET (USA), the Cristina Pato GALICIAN TRIO (Europe), and the co-creator of the Invisible(s) Project alongside composer and violinist Mazz Swift.
In addition to her work as a performing and recording musician, Cristina has been artist-in-residence and instructor at universities including Harvard and the University of California, Santa Barbara, where she co-created a groundbreaking class on memory with neuroscientist Kenneth S. Kosik and artist Kim Yasuda. She has also served as Learning Advisor for Silkroad, the organization founded by Yo-Yo Ma. Cristina writes a weekly column for the Spanish newspaper La Voz de Galicia, and was the 2019-20 Chair of Spanish Culture and Civilization at the King Juan Carlos I Center at New York University.
Cristina holds a Doctorate of Musical Arts from Rutgers University, degrees in piano, music theory, and chamber music from the Conservatorio de Musica del Liceu, and a Master of Digital Arts from the Universitat Pompeu Fabra. She is currently pursuing a Ph.D. in Cultural Studies at Universidade de Santiago de Compostela.
Praised as “revelatory” (New York Times) with “breathtaking virtuosity” (The Observer), Ksenija Sidorova is the leading ambassador for the classical accordion. Both a unique and charismatic performer, Ksenija is passionate about showcasing the vast capabilities of her instrument. Her repertoire spans from Bach to Piazzolla, from Efrem Podgaits and Václav Trojan, to Erkki-Sven Tüür and George Bizet, as well as new accordion concertos composed especially for her, plus a multitude of chamber projects.
Ksenija works with leading orchestras including NDR Elbphilharmonie Orchester, Orchestre Philharmonique du Luxembourg, Atlanta Symphony, Tokyo and Hong Kong Philharmonic Orchestra, and prestigious conductors including Paavo Järvi, Vasily Petrenko, Kristjan Järvi, Michał Nesterowicz and Jan Willem de Vriend. She regularly collaborates with Avi Avital, Nemanja Radulovic, Andreas Ottensamer, Miloš Karadaglić, Camille Thomas, Leticia Moreno, Goldmund Quartet, Tine Thing Helseth, Brazilian DJ Gui Borratto, Juan Diego Flórez, Nicola Benedetti and Joseph Calleja. Ksenija often appears at Ravinia, Cheltenham, Mostly Mozart, Schleswig-Holstein, Gstaad Menuhin, Verbier and Rheingau music festivals.
Encouraged to take up the instrument by her grandmother steeped in the folk tradition of accordion playing, Ksenija started to play the instrument aged six under the guidance of Marija Gasele in her hometown of Riga. Her quest for more exposure to both classical and contemporary repertoire took her to London where she became a prize-winning undergraduate and postgraduate at the Royal Academy of Music studying under Owen Murray. In May 2012 she became the first International Award winner of the Bryn Terfel Foundation, and in October 2015 she appeared at the Royal Albert Hall as part of his 50th birthday celebrations alongside Sting. Since 2016, Ksenija has been an Associate of the Royal Academy of Music.

WHEN: Sunday, March 28, 2021 3PM (EDT)
The stream will be available for on-demand viewing through Saturday, April 24 at 11:59PM.
WHAT: A streamed watch party in celebration of Women’s History Month, featuring four “leading ladies” of classical music.
WHERE: A virtual stream available at
TICKETS: FREE, non-ticketed. RSVPs recommended.
PLUS: Curated food available for event viewing from The Gingered Peach.


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